Shawnee man surrenders in ’77 killing

BY SHEILA STOGSDILL AND ANN KELLEY Modified: March 17, 2009 at 12:20 pm •  Published: March 17, 2009
SHAWNEE — A man who thought he was going to die confessed last week to a decades-old slaying.

James Brewer, 58, didn’t die. Instead, he found himself Monday in a Tennessee courtroom facing a murder charge. Authorities say he killed a man he thought was involved with his wife in 1977.

Brewer, a Shawnee resident, was in an Oklahoma City hospital early last week when his wife called the Shawnee Police Department, saying her husband wanted to confess to a murder.

"He wanted to cleanse his soul, because he thought he was going to the great beyond,” Shawnee police detective Tony Grasso said.

Grasso interviewed Brewer at the hospital, but Brewer had trouble communicating because of the stroke he suffered. In the beginning, his wife agreed to translate for him but decided partway through the interview that they needed an attorney, Grasso said.

Grasso photographed and fingerprinted Brewer and contacted authorities in Tennessee.

Brewer surrendered to Tennessee authorities on Thursday. He appeared in court Monday with the same lawyer he had almost 32 years ago. He is being held in lieu of bail. A bail hearing is set for March 30.

For almost three decades, James and Dorothy Brewer had been living in Shawnee under the name of Michael and Dorothy Anderson, authorities said. Dorothy was sometimes referred to as "Dolly” or "Dot.”

The couple lived in a modest home on the south side of Shawnee. Brewer had worked at Central Plastics, a manufacturing plant, until a previous stroke about three years ago.

Brewer was arrested after the April 27, 1977, shooting death of Jimmy Carroll and charged with first-degree murder. His $50,000 bail was reduced to $10,000. When he was released on bail, Brewer legally changed his name, and the couple left for Nashville, Tenn. They later moved to Texas and then to Shawnee, where Brewer worked as a machinist for 17 years and where they raised their daughter.

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